The JOY of FAILURE…John Page Burton

Lets face it, most of us have a jaded relationship with failure. Many of us have experienced a love gone south, a business venture or career decision that didn’t go as planned or we may have even raised a child who chose to journey down a criminal path. Many of us have blamed ourselves for these “failures” and we have developed a negative self image as a result of them. When tough times happen (they will) it is our interpretation of the event that determines how we move forward. I recently wrote a book titled, Wisdom Through Failure. In this book I encourage my readers to first embrace and then establish a positive relationship with failure. This new relationship is essential for our mental health. Lets take a look at three ways we can find the positives (joy) from our perceived failures.

What was enjoyable about this experience? Looking back was it really all that bad? My intention is not to be a Pollyanna, however, ALL of us are capable of looking back and finding aspects of any experience that can put a smile on our face. By taking this approach we condition our mind to seek the positive in any given situation. For example, once upon a time I was in love with a girl. One day we got into a terrible fight and broke up. For weeks, I floated between the emotions of sadness, anger and guilt. I just couldn’t find anything positive about what “she had done to me”. (victim mindset) Twenty years later, it is easy to recall many fond memories of our time together. I needed to go through this “perceived failure/rejection” in order to become the person I am today. This experience allowed me to grow and it prepared me to meet the amazing women I now share my life with. Time can soften the hardest heart. Seek to find the positive aspects of the experience.

How did I grow from this experience? Who and where would I be if I had not gone through this? Like many, I have spent a great deal of time reflecting back on the things that I considered setbacks or outright failure. It is human nature to dwell on what we did “wrong ” and take for granted what we did “right”. Today, when I go through a rough spot, I tend to look for the lesson in the experience. What was I supposed to learn? When we seek to find the lesson, our setbacks and failures can be viewed from a more positive, conscious perspective.

Did this experience make me stronger? Anyone who has come out on the other side of a terminal illness will never look at their everyday challenges in the same way. Because of their near death experience, they now have an entirely different perspective. As survivors of the ultimate adversity, they now view setbacks and failures as mere bumps in the road. We don’t have to be an illness survivor to begin viewing our everyday challenges for what they really are….speed bumps. We can look back on a challenge, embrace the lesson, recognize that we are still standing and use this awareness to successfully navigate through future challenges. This is what I like to refer to as “personal power”.

If given a choice most of us would prefer to succeed at everything we do. Unfortunately this is not how it works. By implementing these three strategies we can re-frame any negative experience and truly begin finding the “joy” in our failure.

As always, I look forward to your thoughts and perspective.


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